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The fear she felt was not measurable by words. She could barely form a coherent thought in this moment. The sky was dark, and with only the dim light of the torches anchored to the decaying wooden homes around her, she feared what was around every corner. She had to find him. Her husband had been lured away, into what she could only assume was his imminent demise. She now knew, the many stories and legends she heard were true. She could remember how excited they were during the upcoming weeks to take the journey to Japan. To be continued...
"This is going to be the break we need Angie." "I-I don't know," Angie said hesitantly, "traveling all the way to Japan? Is that really a logical thing to do? Just for a story?" Connor stood silent. Clearly thinking of a way to convince his wife, that this was a necessary step in their career. That this trip to Japan, would be the money maker that propelled their journalism lives into the spotlight. "We need this Ang. Please. I know that times have been tough, well with everything going on. I think with your sisters death, you need this."
Angie slipped between a small crevasse on the side of a small barn and storage shed. Her heart was racing. She was exhausted, She hated herself for allowing them to go on this trip. She knew that Connor was just trying to take her mind off things. Distract her from the death of her sister, her twin. Ellis and her were so close. The bond they had was closer than that of normal twins. If one of them ran into trouble the other was not far behind to help fix it. To make things better. Angie had no one now.
She may have felt alone before, but now she was. Isolated. With no one to help her. She always loved her husband, their love was one of a kind. If there was something greater then soulmates, that was them. He did this for her, and now he was dead, or worse. Throughout their career, research had always been something they did. They covered every nook and cranny. Dotted all I's and crossed all T's. For some reason though, this was different. most of what they should have done slipped her mind. They walked right into what she knew was hell.
There were no official records that could pin point how old HisaKuni village was. The only known documents to exist could only provide information on how it was once a thriving, small patch of civilization that was just south of the Aokigahara Forest, or the suicide forest as known to most. The village once supplied hundreds of crops, water and wood to different villages, and even palaces, however history showed that one day the people living within just disappeared. Many tried to move into Hisakuni in order to profit off of the land, but they were not heard from again.
Hisakuni village was not only notorious for the disappearances of villagers, there had also been numerous rumors of human sacrifices occurring since the village was founded. That was the main reason Angie and Connor had taken this trip. Even though the long hidden path to the village had been barricaded off, with warning from the local law enforcement and government, people still made their way to it. The thrill seeking young adults, and the curious kids. There had been little record of who had gone missing. Sometimes their bodies would be found during the monthly inspections of the Suicide Forest.
With just the word of parents, or friends of the missing, who told the police that they were told by the where they were heading, the police dismissed it as a runaway case. Connor suspected that they were involved in a cover up. The police station that was in charge of that area consisted of only elderly men, something that was thought odd by many who were aware of it in the surrounding Japanese towns and villages. Connor and Angie had been to at least thirty different homes, all related to the disappearances, to interview the families left behind.
The families were broken. Every time they sat down to speak with them, all of them gave of the same feeling of sadness. Even the oldest families of the missing persons gave off an immense sense of anguish. Angie couldn't help but understand some of the pain they felt. Maybe that was the main reason Connor took her on this
. The last home they had visited was of the most recently reported missing person. Yura Mizohara was an adventurous young girl who had just celebrated her twentieth birthday. Her parents said she had a knack for investigating.
Yura was drawn to mystery and anything supernatural related. At every meal she would tell her parents in detail about a new ghost story, or suspected haunting she had discovered. Even though the police denied it, and tried to tell them they had lost their minds, and even blamed their daughters disappearance on them, Yura's parents knew exactly what had become of their beloved daughter. For the weeks leading up to her disappearance all Yura could talk about was the legends of the village. She would tell her mother all about how she was collecting data on everything she could.
Her mother, Mimiko, had provided Angie with her daughters journal. It held in it all the information she had found regarding the village. Connor had dismissed it as a child's book of fiction, but Angie had read it. Yura had collected within it information that Angie herself had not come across. It had details regarding some of the disappearances during the Edo period. Apparently there had been some old scrolls documenting some of the freak history of the village from elders in the surrounding towns. According to a scholar who had traveled to the village, it was a death trap.
The scholar, Hiroki Ishida, The village was not always prosperous. During his three years there he had been witness to the dying rice fields and vegetable patches on the outskirts of the village. He thought it odd that the paths to them were always blocked by palace guards. However after five months he had found away to sneak in. The events that would take place after horrified him. Within a few days of bearing witness to the dying crops, The village head would call a meeting, Scholar Hiroki would always be present to document what was discussed between the elders.
The village head would announce that a villager, usually a small child or teenager, had been caught sneaking out of the village. The guards who had apparently caught them had said that they all stated they couldn't live the life of a villager, and wanted to leave for better prospects. The first few times this happened, Hiroki believed it, as it was an age when children were becoming more aware of the outside world around them, especially when they spoke with passerby's about what the cities had to hold. He realized he needed to speak with the children's families immediately.
The scholar began visiting the families after their children were reported as abandoning the village. What should of been a family grieving the departure of their child, was oddly calm. One could say even happy. They had all refused to answer his question, and only said that their child had moved on for the greater good. This was something that had continued to haunt Hiroki for the next two years. The messengers that frequented him for the scrolls he had written described his behavior as erratic, and paranoid. Out of paranoia He began to document his daily life.
The school he was employed by no longer wish to keep him as a scholar and sent notice of his position termination. This was something that further sent him over the edge. The last historic information that was documented on the famed Scholar Hiroki Ishida, who had gone mad, declared him insane, and that his madness had driven him out of the eye of civilization. He was never heard from again. Yura had documented that was an old rumor that Hiroki's secret journal was hidden in Hisakuni. Yura had made it clear that she was very determined to find them.
Mimiko had told Angie she knew Yura would sneak away to the village, even though her mother and father had forbidden it. She explained to her that she had snuck away during the night under the pretense she was visiting a friend to study for the upcoming college exams they had. Mimiko told them that after loosing their other daughter, and there was no confirmation of Yura's death, that they knew in their hearts that she was with her sister now. Part of this story had turned into something more for Angie, she was determined to find the missing girl.
Angie had managed to find a small wooden building hidden off to the side of the village. She felt as if it was getting darker. She finally reached the door, however it was locked and the windows barred. She stood back on the dirt path in front of it, looking around she saw a fence to the side, with a small hole against the wall of the building. She struggled to make it through, but managed. Angie regained her footing and found herself in the missing of a garden with tombstones lining the back fence. It was a small cemetery.
Still trying to catch her breath, Angie walked toward the tombstones. She squatted and brushed off some stay vines with her hand trying to get a look on the writing on them. The names were written in Japanese, which Angie did not read, but the dates were written in English. The oldest date on them was 1560, which was about forty years prior to the Tokugawa period. It was impossible. Not only had there been no documentation of the village existing before then, but the village, and the tombstones were still intact. The village didn't look older than 100 years.
The tombstones barely had any cracks in them, and the writing, even though she could not read it all, was very clear. She couldn't understand what was happening. She closed her eyes trying to figure out in her mind what was happening. That was when she heard it.
"Angie." A voice called.
It was Conner's voice. It was wrong though. It sounded slightly warped.
"Angie, were did you go?"
She looked around. He was alive, she need to get to him, and leave this forsaken place. She stood up and began to move.
"Stop! You must not go further!"
Angie glanced around quickly,trying to find the source of the command. She faced the building and saw. Peering out of the small barred window on the back of the building was a boy. he couldn't have been no more than eighteen years old. He skin was pale, hair almost silver.
"What? How are you here? What are you talking about?" Angie asked slightly confused.
"Please you must hurry, there is no time to explain right now. Quickly take this," The boy tossed a small key through the bars of the window as Angie caught it.
Angie held the key tightly as she ran to the front of the building. she fumbled trying to get the key into the keyhole and finally turned it. The click she heard was a huge relief. She quickly opened the door closing it behind her.
"Hurry and lock it!" The boy yelled.
Angie glanced and saw a large wooden plank on the wall to the side of the door. She held it and laid it into the metal holding rods that were on each side of the door, successfully locking it. She stood there, slightly winded.
Angie turned to face the boy. The small room was dark, but she could manage to make out enough of it to see it was a small prison. The boy stood on the other side of rusty bars that lined the back of the room from top to bottom. He was pale, tall, he wore an old fashioned male kimono,it gave her a weird feeling. Something wasn't right, she couldn't place it though. He was looked no more then seventeen years old at most maybe. She moved toward him.
"What's going on here?" She asked, still confused.
"There is much you don't understand," he said pausing, "that person was not the person you came here with. He is gone."
"But i heard him, Connor he-he called me. That was his voice!"
"No, it wasn't. They were using his voice to get you to expose yourself, and if you did that then they would kill you. Just like they killed him."
Angie's eyes grew wide in horror.
"Killed? What do you mean? Connor is dead?" She backed away from the bars, tears forming in her eyes. This couldn't be happening.
"You need to give up on finding her. At least finding her alive. You must focus on surviving and getting out of here alive."
all Angie could do was stare at him. As she closed her eyes in an attempt to hold back the tears she heard something hit the floor. She looked to the floor in front of her.
"Take this," the boy said pointing to what looked like a scroll on the floor, "it is a map, it will show you an alternate route to escape."
"Why? Why are you helping me?"
"I don't understand. What's happening?" She cried, sinking to the floor.The boy slowing knelt down to the floor.
"This village, as I'm sure you have noticed, is wrong. From this prison I have seen many who have been chased, captured and killed. You should of never come here. Once you stepped foot into the village border, you became trapped, and destined to stay trapped forever."
She looked up into his eyes. What was he talking about? Trapped forever? What he was saying couldn't be true.
"I know you don't believe me, but don't you realize?"
"I don't understand. hat do you mean?"
"You have seen them, right? The villagers?"
"Of course I have. They are who I have been running from."
"You don't find it odd. Why are there so many? In a town you probably came here knowing was empty? This is a village of the dead. All of them are dead."
"This is all my fault," Angie cried, " Connor is dead because of me? This can't be real, no!"
"I know this is hard to believe, but you know it's true. I want to help you to escape."
Angie sat there in utter silence for what felt like forever. She didn't know what to do. It was her fault, the only reason they had come to this place was because Connor was trying to distract her. To take her mind off of her sisters death. She didn't blame him. She loved him, and he her. He always wanted to make everything better for her. If he was dead though, no he couldn't. She could never have a chance to fix it, or let him know she loved him more then life itself. She was stupid for being selfish.
Angie grabbed the wall and slowly stood.
"I need to stop what is happening here. All the deaths. We came to look for a missing girl," she said wiping her eyes, "if I can't find her, then his death will be in vain, for nothing at all."
The boy stared at her in silence.
"Please. Help me."
"I don't know if she is alive. I haven't seen her since she first wandered into the village. I tried to warn her, but she didn't listen. She was scared. They became aware of her presence quickly."
"I can't," Angie said, her voice shaking, " I can't do this by myself. I can't leave Connor here! Please, come with me, help me."
The boy's hand slid off the bar it was holding and he back away.
"I can't. My place is not with you, I do not belong where you are heading."
Angie grabbed the scroll and pulled the string that bound it closed. The map was old, a lot of the markings on it had been faded. She could just make out the outline of the main manor of the village.
Angie stood for a moment before turning to leave. It was clear the boy would be of no other help to her. As her hand reached for the door knob she had a thought. Why was he here. And why had he never tried to leave, but chose to stay locked in a small prison cell? She turned to face him again, but he no longer stood in the cell. Instead in his place was a skeleton hanging from it's neck by a make shift noose. She clapped her hand over her mouth in horror realizing he wasn't really here.
She had been talking to a dead boy this entire time. Tears began to fill her eyes. She needed to leave, to get out. She rushed to the door throwing it open. It was still dark outside, nothing had changed. If anything the air was thicker. She held the scroll up to her face to get a better look at it. She didn't have too far to go to leave the village. The main entrance was not an option. She began walking picking up her pace to a jog. She made her way through the back alleys of the homes.
She continued walking along the alley ways. Stumbling over dead branches and hay that littered the ground. Then she stepped on something she knew was not a branch. She lowered her head to look. it was a body. Yura's body. Her eyes was wide with horror and her mouth affixed to an open position. Angie started to back away.
"Angie," an eerie voice said, "where did you go."
The voice was right behind her. She could feel the presence of some one. It was Connor's voice, but she was sure it wasn't him. She held her breath and turned to face him.
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